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Trust
Statute of limitations about to run out on tribal trust


The deadline for tribes to file lawsuits against the federal government for mismanagement of their trust assets will run out later this month unless Congress acts.

The clock started running on tribes when they received their reconciliation reports from the former Arthur Andersen firm. Federal law gives tribes six years to file a claim against the U.S. for any trust fund losses.

But Congress has extended this deadline in order to give tribes more time to negotiate settlements rather than go to court. The most recent extension ends on December 31, 2005.

Two bills are pending that would extend the deadline to December 21, 2011. But neither measure has seen action on the House or Senate floor.

Arthur Andersen, which went out of business as a result of the Enron accounting scandal, delivered its reports tribes in the mid-1990s. By changing the date when the tribes received the reports, Congress can restart the clock on the statute of limitations.

Separately, Congress has included a provision in every Interior appropriations bill that states the statute of limitations shall not start until an historical accounting has been provided to either a tribal or individual Indian trust beneficiary. Earlier this year, Bush administration tried to get the U.S. Supreme Court to essentially invalidate this provision in order to limit the government's fiduciary duty to account.

The Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust is not affected by the upcoming deadline.

Get the Story:
Tribes may lose on trust fund payments (Indian Country Today 12/6)

Get the Bill:
S.1892 | H.R.4292 | Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

Relevant Links:
Senate Indian Affairs Committee - http://indian.senate.gov

Related Stories:
Senate committee takes up slate of Indian bills (10/27)
Senate Indian Affairs sets business meeting (10/20)
Relevant Links:
Senate Indian Affairs Committee - http://indian.senate.gov

Related Stories:
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